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Sin tax too lenient—and too harsh

| September 4, 2013

Despite the passage of the sin tax law, the prices of cigarettes in the Philippines remain among the lowest in Southeast Asia, an antismoking group said on Monday.

A story in the Philippine Daily Inquirer quoted Emer Rojas, president of the New Vois Association of the Philippines, as saying the first edition of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Tobacco Atlas showed that the country continued to have some of the lowest cigarette prices in the region and even in the world.

“For example, local brand Fortune is pegged at 58 centavos and Marlboro at $1.16 a pack,” Rojas said. “But in Singapore, which is one of the Asean countries with good tobacco control policies, a pack of Marlboro is sold at $9.”

Rojas said the Philippines had been lagging behind its Asean neighbors in terms of tobacco control and that even with the sin tax law approved last year, the price increases were not enough for the country to catch up.

“We were only able to achieve a tax burden of 53 percent of the retail price,” he said. “This is still short of the recommended 70 percent tax burden of the World Health Organization.”

Farmers apparently disagree and believe that the new sin tax will have a devastating effect on their businesses, according to a story in The Philippine Star.

“This law will lead to the extinction of the tobacco industry,” Bernard Vicente, vice president of the Philippine Tobacco Growers’ Federation, was quoted as saying.

“Sales of cigarettes will drop drastically and will in turn bring down demand for tobacco by the cigarette manufacturers. They might even close shop.”

Category: Breaking News

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